In one of my first posts, I used the story of a giant water beetle I found in my garage last August to illustrate the relationship between investment and perceived value. Believe it or not, a different giant water beetle decided to take up residence in the galvanized tub on our back deck this year. This critter also delivered a memorable lesson, but he went about it in a rather unnecessarily graphic manner, if you ask me.
The tub wasn’t a very safe place for him. The boys were haphazardly throwing sticks and mud and fleshy plum pits (which he happily gorged himself on) into the water. I decided to put him in a fish bowl like I did with his relative last summer—as a pet for my three-year-old. But, before I began setting up his new home, I had a wonderful idea. What if he was compatible with my older son’s beta fish, Benjamin? I had just heard from a friend that betas and little aqua frogs can share a space. Why not water beetles?
Knowing the aggressive nature of betas, I feared for the welfare of the beetle. Wishing to be responsible, I tried to Google the subject at hand—first mistake. I simply couldn’t find any information about the compatibilities of giant water scavenger beetles and beta fish. I guess no one had ever tried? At this point, I had a definite check about the whole project, but I dismissed it and considered how I might proceed—second mistake.
Now, don’t laugh, but I think I even prayed about it. We weren’t just talking about a beetle and a beta fish here; we were talking about the hearts of two sweet little boys. What if the fish killed the beetle? But, for some reason the novelty of a beetle-beta tank was irresistible to me. In spite of my inner hesitancy—when no audible voice sounded from heaven to discourage me from my plot—I decided to give it a trial run. Third mistake.
Things started out fine. The beetle clung to the dangling roots of the peace lily. The beta approached, checked out the beetle, and swam away. I went about my daily routine, looking in on the new roomies every couple minutes to make sure things were staying peaceable. They seemed to be ignoring each other. All was well. Until…
I peeked into the bowl and saw one shape instead of two. Only, the shape had some beetle parts and some fish parts. Maybe they were just near each other and the curved glass was distorting my view. I spun the bowl slightly to get a better look. A startled water beetle dislodged his mandibles from his prey and darted away. The beta was gasping and swimming on its side, trailing what was left of its tattered fins and tail through the water. Oh no! He got Benjamin. The beetle circled back and attacked the weakened beta again right in front of me. Horror!
I had to act quick. I managed to remove the beetle and flush the fish before the boys were traumatized (it was too late for me). Then, I called a friend and begged her to watch the boys for an hour or so while I located a Benjamin look alike. Just for the record, male beta fish have a lot more variety and personality than I would have thought possible. Their faces even look different, for pity’s sake! I did finally locate a replacement, and the the boys were never savvy to the murder.
So, what lesson did I glean from this experience, other than the knowledge that water scavenger beetles are not compatible with beta fish? Well…it’s really not a good idea to ignore those little checks inside. In this case, I really don’t know if God honored my silly prayer and warned me, or if I just felt hesitant because I was aware of my ignorance on the subject. Either way, things would have worked out better had I obeyed that prompting. I’ve seen this proved true many times over—sometimes in situations as seemingly inconsequential as this one…and sometimes not.
I make the impulse purchase. I share the tidbit of questionable information. I follow the crowd. I speak the hurtful words. I let the opportunity pass by. I choose the comfortable thing. I act when something inside tells me I shouldn’t…
Why is this repeat behavior for me? Well, probably lots of reasons—depending on the situation. I’m not exercising patience. I think the immediate benefit is worth the risk. I tell myself it’s not that big of a deal. I act rashly because of external pressure. I’m trying to manipulate a person or a situation. I’m just not careful.
I pray daily for God to direct my steps. With that in mind, perhaps it would be prudent to pay attention when I feel like I’m experiencing some direction—even if it’s not what I want to hear. The knowledge that I might be dismissing the prompting of the Holy Spirit should be enough to stay me—at least until I’m sure that He is not the source.
Romans 14:23 (NASB)
23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
In other words—if I think it might be wrong and I do it anyway—it is sin for me, regardless of whether the action itself is inherently sinful.
FYI: I have learned since the beta massacre that my identification of the offender as a water scavenger beetle was incorrect. He actually goes by the name predaceous diving beetle. That does sound a bit more menacing. But, in my defense, here’s a little footage a relatively cute and innocent looking predaceous diving beetle.